Last week, I sat across from Mazzy’s teachers in her second grade classroom, trying to shove my ass into one of those little chairs and listening attentively as they discussed my favorite topic— my daughter. It’s interesting to learn about your kid from an outsider’s perspective. And even weirder to realize, teachers aren’t outsiders. They spend almost as much time with Mazzy as I do.
They talked about her academic progress (great strides in reading, needs more confidence in math), her social skills (she’s friends with everyone and knows how to stand up for herself) and they gave me a few of her writing samples to look at. I wish I had taken photos of her stories so that I could tell them verbatim but I think I can retell them mostly from memory.
The first was a story of the Me-Marshmallows. The boy Me-Marshmallow liked the girl Me-Marshmallow so they became boyfriend and girlfriend. Then they broke up. But don’t worry, they were both fine because Me-Marshmallows aren’t real.
My takeaway: How does she know about BREAKING UP??? Oh. I guess that’s what happens when you let your seven-year-old watch the original Parent Trap.
The second story was about a penguin who loved grapes. He went to a store and bought ten boxes of grapes. Then he ate them all and when he got home, he threw them all up. The penguin didn’t love grapes anymore. MORAL: Never eat ten boxes of grapes.
Solid beginning, middle and end with a valuable lesson!
They also showed me an essay she wrote about her spring break.
I went to Utah and we went skiing and I got a fever and a headache. I went to Lily’s hotel and went on the water slide. And I drove a horse sley (her spelling, not mine). I like skiing with Mommy and Daddy. I went on a black diamond. Harlow skied too. She got really good.
All true, I told the teacher.
All her stories were accompanied by the big eyed drawings that have become Mazzy’s signature style. Since I don’t have pics of the actual stories, here’s an example of her drawing style that I found at home.
I went around the school and met with all the teachers of her “specials.” Gym, science, art, music, tech (her favorite) and Spanish. Every single teacher said Mazzy is a really sweet kid, attentive and focused, a hard worker and a joy to have in class.
“Really? Are you talking about my kid???”
Mazzy is not the model of perfect behavior at home, but I always think we must be doing something right if she is well behaved in school. Better she exercise her opposition at home, right?
The Spanish teacher shared a story with me that I really liked. She said she told the kids a story that was completely in Spanish with accompanying visuals. After it was over, she asked the kids what the story was about. Most of the kids said they couldn’t understand it and then Mazzy raised her hand.
“I know what it was about,” she said (as relayed by her teacher.) “Someone came and stole all the colors from the city and the kids had to work to get the colors back.”
“Really?” I asked. “The story was completely in Spanish and she was able to understand it?”
“Yes!” the teacher said. “I was very impressed and Mazzy was very proud of herself. You should ask her to tell you what happened in class.”
Later that day, I told Mazzy that I had met with her teachers and that everyone said she was a very hard worker and well-behaved. “Your Spanish teacher told me that you understood a story that she told in class. What was it?”
Mazzy relayed the meaning of the story to me, just as the teacher had explained it.
“That’s amazing, Mazzy! And you figured that all out because you understood the Spanish?”
“No. I figured it out from looking at the pictures.”
“Oh… That’s awesome! It’s really smart to understand a story through pictures!”
School this year has been interesting because it really is the first year that feels more like work and less like play. Mazzy feels it too. We’ve got homework and real assessments of how she’s doing. She started off a little behind in reading and has more than caught up since. I’m really proud to see how far she’s come since the beginning of the year. Now it’s up to her to make the same progress in math.
At the conference, we were given some extra math sheets to practice the foundations at home. Mazzy always starts out at 100%— she thinks she’s great at everything and calls it easy. When she learns that something is more challenging than she originally believed, she gets frustrated and loses confidence. So, our challenge is to make her understand that just because something is hard to learn, that doesn’t mean she isn’t smart. It will just make her feel that much more accomplished once she gets it.
That night, we sat down to do the extra math sheets and her progression was exactly as I had predicted. “This is SO easy!” Then as the problems got more difficult, “I don’t want to do math homework!” And then after I pushed her to listen and focus again, “Oh, okay. I can do this.”
Before bed, she asked me if I had bought fresas at the store so she could have them for breakfast the next morning.
“What? What is fresas??”
“Strawberries in Spanish, Mom. Sheesh.”
So maybe Mazzy’s teacher was right. She’s learning a lot from Spanish after all.
All the pictures used are Mazzy’s class photos taken by Stomping Ground— hands down the best school photo company in the city! Mazzy’s school just switched over to them this year and I could not be happier. It’s the same company that took both Mazzy’s pics in preschool and Harlow’s school photo that killed me dead.